Lessons from one year State of Digital
Last year we re-branded to State of Digital, so this year we are ‘celebrating’. And what better way to celebrate than to give away something. In this case I want to ‘give away’ my experience, the lessons I learned in the past year. They might come of use.
You need a great team
You need a team, we all know that, you need a good team some would say. I’m saying: you need a great team. I was lucky to have the editorial team around, especially around the re-brand this was important because they not only help you with the actual work, they also make sure the word gets out. They are your messengers at the start.
Re-branding is not easy
Again, it seems like an open door, but still, it’s something you need to really get through your brain when you are thinking of re-branding: it’s not easy. Yes, there are checklists and things you can do to make it easier, but in the end it’s something that takes time. It isn’t over once you ‘reset’ the site into the new domain: that’s when it starts, that’s when you need to work on your name, your team and your consistency.
You will lose social, but not +1s
Unfortunately when 301-redirecting a domain (like we did) you will lose the social shares on articles. All the tweets, all the likes. Just gone. You will have to live with that and will have to start re-sharing the old articles to make them get some social weight again, because you will lose social traffic on it if you don’t. Funny enough I recently discovered that after a while, the +1s do seem to come back. So Google has figured it out, Twitter and Facebook haven’t.
Not everybody will like it
Keep in mind that when re-branding, not everyone will like it. I’ve had people coming up to me at conferences ‘complaining’ about the re-brand. Even though they understood the reasons behind it, they hated that we stepped away from all search. Some even thought that now we believed SEO was dead. We don’t, far from, but sometimes people will get the wrong impression.
Big fish, small pond, small fish big pond
As State of Search we were the biggest in Europe in the industry. We were a big fish. And even though we haven’t gotten smaller, now we are a small fish. Simply because we are also tapping into a different market. Which means more competition and thus less ‘attention’. We are now a smaller fish. The good thing though is that now we can grow again :-).
The publishing world is changing
What I’m clearly seeing is that the publishing world is changing. Just going after pageviews won’t do it anymore and people have so much to choose from, you need to have something special. You need to be different, to succeed. I think we have something different, though still a long way to go, quality will be leading and we always want to be on the forefront.
Always keep changing
Some people are surprised when Google removes something (like authorship). I’m not. Because I know, with the experience from State of Digital in mind as well, that if something doesn’t work, you should just stop doing it. We’ve tried out a LOT on State of Digital, from research updates to videos and much more. Some things worked, others didn’t. And if they don’t you shouldn’t be afraid to stop doing it. Change is good, even change in strategy can be good, because over time, you will learn.
It’s still fun!
Finally, after one year, I can only say: it is still fun. State of Digital is an exciting project. We’ve had ups and downs but I feel that good things will be happening to us. And we are not in a hurry: we will build slowly, test, try out new stuff, get new people in, and evolve. And that is the beauty of State of Digital.
This past year has been intense, but I think we’re on track, let’s hope you think so too and will stick with us, or even better, help us get forward.